Happy Halloween, American horror fans, and here’s that treat you ordered: an extra-kooky, campy episode of AHS: Apocalypse, featuring Sandra Bernhard (yes!) as a robe-wearing, podium-thumping, satanic preacher-about-town (excuse me: HELL, yes!). Strap in, y’all; we’re about to have a religious experience.
As the episode kicks off, Michael Langdon is having a very bad day. He finds Mead’s charred body and howls with rage and grief, then whirls to see Cordelia behind him.
“It’s over,” she says. “We know who you are. Your allies are all dead. You’ve failed.” Also, she tells him, she’s hexed Mead’s soul so that Michael can’t find it and bring her back. For some strange reason, none of this endears her or her coven to Michael — so when she suggests he give up the whole Antichrist thing and join her on the side of the light, he tells her to piss right off. He’s going to kill her, he says, and all her little friends too.
That is, as soon as he figures out what to do with himself because the thing about being the son of Satan is that there’s no template for plunging the world into darkness. So, Michael improvises, pouting inside a pentagram circle for days, refusing to eat or move until his Dad delivers some guidance. But does he? Honestly, I’m not sure. Michael experiences hallucinatory visits from a little boy with a grape Fanta, an angel wearing a diaper, and a creepy goat who looks like the twin brother of Black Philip from The Witch — except that Michael rips the goat’s head off before he can even ask him if he wouldst like to live deliciously or eat some butter. RUDE. Also, the goat is full of snakes. Why? Eh, why not. (I’d feel worse about not having any idea what the heck was going on in this scene, except that Michael starts screaming, “What do you want from me?!,” leading me to believe that he’s just as confused as the rest of us.)
Having decided that the forest thing isn’t working out, Michael finds himself at the nearest Church of Satan — where preacher Sandra Bernhard is extremely unimpressed by her congregation of underachieving sinners.
“I’ve seen bad facelifts that are more evil than you!” she screams. (Side note: How does this work, exactly? Is the badness of the facelift directly or inversely correlated to how evil it is?)
Needless to say, the son of Satan makes a big splash amongst the parishioners, who have all sold their souls in exchange for sinful pleasures like La-Z-Boy recliners and weekly sex dates with Ryan Reynolds, but are mostly just killing time until the Antichrist arrives and escorts them all to hell. He shows Bernhard’s character (I never caught her name) his 666 birthmarks, leading to a whole lotta Hail Satan-ing from the congregation… and ugh, then things get weird again. Turns out, nobody really knows what to do when the dark messiah turns up at devil church! Everyone just gets very self-conscious about whether the Antichrist is having a good time, and whether the Antichrist would like some more punch, and did the Antichrist enjoy the potluck turkey meatballs? (Side note: Young viewers, please consider this a cautionary tale before you do anything similarly short-sighted, like inviting Rihanna to your prom without ever stopping to think how weird it’s gonna be if she says “yes.”)
Only one of Michael’s new Satanist friends understands what a bind he’s in, but fortunately, she knows just what he needs. And finally, a couple more piece of the post-apocalypse puzzle fall into place. We cut to a compound in Northern California, where two tech bros with bowl cuts are coding a sex robot and snorting a highly unhealthy amount of cocaine (I mean, not that any amount is healthy, but let’s put it this way, it is a scientific miracle that these dudes still have noses at all). And their assistant in this enterprise? It’s none other than Wilhemina Venable, who we now know was an ice cold power-tripping bitch who loved wearing purple long before the apocalypse.
Michael arrives for a meeting and promptly proves his bona fides by setting the office prostitute (why yes, they have one) on fire with his mind — and the bros, who owe all their success (and their own weekly sex date with Ryan Reynolds) to a deal with the devil, are more than happy to make a special something for his son, a companion who will be there for him after he brings on the end of days. And here’s Puzzle Piece #2: the true origin story of Robot Mead. The bros reconstruct her just as she was, with only a couple upgrades (e.g. her assassin skills,) and though they warn Michael that she might not be just as he remembered right away, it sure seems like she knows him. Fully assembled and booted up, Mead blinks, sits up, and reaches for the blonde young man with the pale eyes.
She says, “How I’ve missed you, Michael.”